As there are so many materials and knowledges about Yoga and different paths or methods of Yoga, i have decided to collect important and practical teachings out from these many different methods. These teachings , i have picked out, are helping us all in our everyday life. Mentally, physically and spiritually. It does not matter what is your job or position, age or gender, you can gain a lot of good from this knowledge.
I am grateful to all the great Yogis, who have given us all these paths and knowledges.
THE 5 YOGA PATHS.
For the integral development of body, mind and soul, yoga recommends combining the following five main practices:
Is the science of controlling body and mind. The asanas (body postures) and pranayamas (breathing exercises) from Hatha Yoga are an integral part of this yoga path.
Is the yoga of devotion and is perfect for people who are emotional by nature. Through prayer, worship and ritual, one comes to see the Divine as the embodiment of love. Chanting mantras is an essential part of Bhakti Yoga.
The yoga of wisdom or knowledge is most suitable for intellectual people. The philosophy of Vedanta teaches analytical self-enquiry into one’s own true nature, with the goal of recognising the Supreme Self in oneself and in all beings.
Is the path of action and suits people with active temperaments. Performing actions selflessly – without thinking of success or reward – purifies the heart and reduces the ego. Karma Yoga is the best way to prepare oneself for silent meditation.
The main practice of Raja Yoga is silent meditation, where bodily and mental energies are gradually transformed into spiritual energy.
HATHA YOGA– Balancing the Sun and the Moon energies in the body. HATHA: HA- The Sun, THA- The Moon.
5 IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES OF HATHA YOGA:
PATANJALI AND THE 8 LIMBS OF YOGA- ASHTANGA YOGA.
Patanjali and his eightfold path of Yoga.
To perform the boat posture simply to get a flatter tummy is missing the boat, according to Patanjali.
Often called the “Father of Yoga,” Patanjali was the person who codified his thoughts and knowledge of Yoga in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. In this work, Patanjali compiled 195 sutras or concise aphorisms that are essentially an ethical blueprint for living a moral life and incorporating the science of Yoga into your life. Although no one is sure of the exact time when Patanjali lived and wrote down his sutras, it is estimated this humble physician who became one of the world’s greatest sages roamed India somewhere between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D.
In a world where we reduce nearly everything to quick tips and sound bites, Patanjali seems to fit right in with his brief 195 guidelines to enlightenment. But in the case of Patanjali, simplicity is deceptive. In fact, scholars still don’t agree on what Patanjali meant in some of his sutras.
The Yoga Sutra is considered the fundamental text on the system of Yoga, and yet you wont find the description of a single posture or asana in it. This is a guide for living the right life. Essentially, Patanjali says, you can’t practice asanas in Yoga class, feel the stretch, and then go home to play with your kids, cook a meal, yell at your employees, and cheat on your taxes. The most known or spread type of Yoga in the Western world is the Raja Yoga- the third limb of the 8-limb Yoga (ASANAs). The Asanas or the Yogic postures are mostly being practised in the name of the good health, well-being and physical fitness, even though it is not the main purpose of Yoga. Patanjali says that without the Yamas-Niyamas, Yogic postures are simply gymnastics. There is more to Yoga than that — Yoga can help you cultivate body, mind, and spiritual awareness.
The heart of Patanjali’s teachings is the eightfold path of yoga- ASHTANGA YOGA. Ashtanga in sanskrit means : ASHTA= eight and ANGA =limb, so it is also called the eight limbs of Patanjali, because they intertwine like the branches of a tree in the forest. These aren’t commandments (although they sometimes sound like them), laws, or hard and fast rules. These are Patanjali’s suggestions for living a better life through yoga. Here are the eight limbs of Patanjali.
Yama is the social behavior, how you treat others and the world around you. These are moral principles or restraints, that are supreme to one`s religion, geographical location, age or time. There are five yamas:
*Nonviolence (AHIMSA). Vegetarian diet is the Yogic diet, as all the living beings are concidered to have same soul- ATMA. One has to be nonviolent in thoughts, words and deeds to all the living beings. Creating suffering to the other living being, means automatically creating suffering to Yourself.
*Truth and honesty (SATYA). Tell no lies. Also the truth should not hurt other being.
*Nonlust (BRAHMACHARYA). Celibacy (for aspiring yogis) and moderacy in case of married people. Pointless waste of semen is a waste of the life force- OJAS.
*Nonpossessiveness or non-coveting(APARIGRAHA). Free yourself from greed, hoarding, and collecting. Do you really need more shoes, another car, or to hog the conversation every time you see your friends? Make your life as simple as possible. Remember, every of your sensible pleasure is based on someone`s suffering.
Niyama is the inner ethical discipline and responsibility, how we treat ourselves. There are five niyamas:
*External and Internal Purity (SAUCA). Purity is achieved through the practice of the five yamas, which help to clear away the negative physical and mental states of being. Keep yourself, your clothing, and your surroundings clean. Eat fresh and healthy food.
*Contentment (SANTOSHA). Cultivate contentment and tranquility by finding happiness with what you have and who you are. Remember, external things bring only temporary happiness and that is never equal to the inner bliss, that one can achieve with the spiritual practises.
*Austerity (TAPAS). Show discipline in body, speech, and mind. The purpose of developing self-discipline is not to become ascetic, but to control and direct the mind and body for higher spiritual aims or purposes.
*Study of the sacred text (SVADHYAYA). Study the sacred texts, which inspire and teach you. Education changes a person’s outlook on life. It also keeps your mind in SATTVIC (pure, luminous) state.
*Living with an awareness of the Divine (ISHVARA-PRANIDHANA). Be devoted to your ISHTA-DEVATA (God chosen by your own preference, for example- Krishna, Shiva, Buddha, Jesus etc.)
“The posture of Yoga is steady and easy,” Patanjali says. Patanjali compares this to resting like the cosmic serpent on the waters of infinity. Although Westerners often consider the practice of asana or postures as an exercise regimen or a way to stay fit, Patanjali and other ancient yogis used asana to prepare the body for meditation. To sit for a lengthy time in contemplation required a supple and cooperative body. If you are free of physical distractions — such as your foot going to sleep — and can control the body, you can also control the mind. Patanjali said, “Posture is mastered by freeing the body and mind from tension and restlessness and meditating on the infinite.”
Prana is the life force or energy that exists everywhere and flows through each of us through the breath. Pranayama is the control of breath. The basic movements of Pranayama are inhalation, retention of breath, and exhalation. “The yogi’s life is not measured by the number of days but by the number of his breaths,” says Iyengar. “Therefore, he follows the proper rhythmic patterns of slow, deep breathing.” The practice of Pranayama purifies and removes distractions from the mind making it easier to concentrate and meditate.
Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses. Pratyahara occurs during meditation, breathing exercises, or the practice of Yoga postures — any time when you are directing your attention inward. Concentration, in the yoga room or the boardroom, is a battle with distracting senses. When you master Pratyahara, you are able to focus, because you will no longer feel the itch on your big toe or hear the mosquito buzzing by your ear.
Concentration or Dharana involves teaching the mind to focus on one point or image. “Concentration is binding thought in one place,” says Patanjali. The goal is to still the mind — gently pushing away superfluous thoughts — by fixing your mind on some object such as a candle flame, a flower, God image or a mantra. In Dharana, concentration is effortless. You know the mind is concentrating when there is no sense of time passing.
Uninterrupted meditation without an object is called Dhyana. Concentration (dharana) leads to the state of meditation. The goal of meditation is not unconsciousness or nothingness. It is heightened awareness and oneness with the universe. How do you tell the difference between concentration and meditation? If there is awareness of distraction, you are only concentrating and not meditating. The calm achieved in meditation spills over into all aspects of your life — during a hectic day at work, shopping for groceries, coordinating the Halloween party at your child’s school.
The ultimate goal of the eightfold path to yoga is Samadhi or absolute bliss. This is pure contemplation, superconsciousness, in which you and the universe are one. Those who have achieved Samadhi are enlightened. All the previous 7 limbs are preparation for this limb. Paramahansa Yoganananda called it the state of God-Union.
The eight limbs work together: The first five steps — Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, and Pratyahara — are the preliminaries of Yoga and build the foundation for spiritual life. They are concerned with the body and the brain. The last three, which would not be possible without the previous steps, are concerned with reconditioning the mind. They help the yogi to attain enlightenment or the full realization of oneness with Spirit. Enlightenment lasts forever, while a flat tummy can disappear with a week of binging.
THE 5 LEVELS IN HUMAN ESSENCE.
Human essence has 5 levels . Each of the levels is clearly distinct from the other, both in its structure and the functions, but in total they form an indivisible whole. These 5 levels are located holistically inside one another- the more inside it is located, the subtler it is.
The most outer level is the gross body or the PHYSICAL BODY and it`s senses. In Taittiriya Upanishad it has been named also as „the food layer“ ( in sanskrit- ANNAMAYAKOSHA).
The next level is the VITAL BODY. It is connected to the breathing ( in sanskrit- PRANAMAYAKOSHA), which suports the function of the life energy or PRANA in our body. The life energy manifests mostly as all kind of emotions in human life, which will provide the energy and direction of its activities.
The third one is the MENTAL LEVEL or MANAS ( in sanskrit MANOMAYAKOSHA). This includes thinking, ability to remember, memory, and imagination.
More subtler from the mental level is the PURE INTELLECT or BUDDHI. This level is characterized by the ability to distinct, awareness ( I know), ability to understand, wisdom, intuition and inspiration. It has also been called as the BODY or LAYER of WISDOM ( in sanskrit – VIJNANAMAYAKOSHA).
Last one, the most inner level is the SPIRITUAL BODY. It has also been called as the HIGHER SELF (in sanskrit -Purusha) or existance. This level or essence has no words, thoughts, imaginations or feelings, just the existance and knowing ( I AM). In Upanishads it has been called also as the BODY of BLISSFULNESS (in sanskrit -ANANDAMAYAKOSHA). If a person is as his real self, he starts to experience the happiness or blissfullness that comes within himself and it is part of the whole existence.
These 5 levels are linked in a hierarchical connection: the spiritual level is the highest, then comes the intellect, then mental, vital and physical. This kind of point of view has not got only the spiritual or religious backround- above everything else, it is practical. Human himself, using the intellect, can create and affect his innerworld and the different levels of it. The resources of the human`s innerworld, used with full awareness and understanding, is the purpose of the Yoga techniques.